Dissonance and decision-making mistakes in the age of risk

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars of public and foreign policy have emphasized the role of decision processes in the creation of policy failures and fiascos and have demonstrated the importance that psychological factors play in policy mistakes. Using Ulrich Beck's notion of world risk society and drawing on advances in our understanding of a key psychological factor central to decision-making pathologies – cognitive dissonance – this contribution explores the ways in which features of the risk era could alter important decision dynamics and increase decision-making mistakes. In combination with the catastrophic potential of world risk society, this would suggest an increase in the frequency of policy-making fiascos. Bridging the gap between the ‘macro’ conditions of globalization and the ‘micro’ processes of decision-making also challenges our conception of both the nature and sources of policy-making mistakes and suggests that our scholarly understanding of ‘decision-making mistakes’ may need rethinking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-787
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2016


  • Decision-making
  • Dissonance
  • Fiascos
  • Mistakes
  • Risk


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